During the last 25 years I've had the opportunity to metal detect for civil war relics near the Rappahannock Station battle site. Also, not far away was the Battle of Bull Run. Warrenton and Culpeper are not far away, both of which are steeped in Civil War history. The house pictured was in use during the Civil War. It sits high on a hill which made it a good observation post. The large oak trees that surround the house kept it cool in the summer. The well, just off to the left of the house was deep and provided cool refreshing water during the hot Virginia summers. The Rappahannock river is just one mile from the house.

There are 14 acres of property surrounding the house. As you can see in the picture on the right, it is also used to grow Christmas trees. In and around these trees I have pulled out over 50 pounds of civil war bullets, buttons, saddle pieces and gun parts. Many a bullet has turned up during the annual tilling of the garden as they are literally sprinkled through out the property. Over 20 different caliber of bullets have been found. This in itself was a problem during the war; there were so many types of weapons used it was not easy to keep the troops in ammunition.

Years ago the property was mostly a corn field. This has resulted in relics being on top of the ground and some relics as deep as 14". The crest of the hill is very rocky and hard to dig in. Near the bottom, it is almost rock free and very easy to dig down 14" to retrieve a bullet. This was quite a depth for a 6000 series metal detector. A Civil War bullet, although large in size when compared to bullets manufactured today, is still a small target. I used headphones and the GEB/MAX mode. A lot of the bullets at these depths would just barely move the needle on the meter. The sound was just a slight variation in pitch. Some bullets, which may have been a few inches deeper, could not make the needle move at all. I used to spend all day out amongst the Christmas trees. I remember days when I would find over 100 bullets. That has pretty much been trimmed down to around 20 bullets, which is still a good day of relic hunting.

I took a friend (Sam Bellanca) down in 1984. He found a breast eagle plate on the left side of the property as you look toward the front of the house. I have never found an eagle plate or a U.S. plate. I know there is one there waiting for me!!! Two years ago, I did unearth a Massachusetts state seal button with a lot of the gilt remaining and a few years later Jeff Herke dug one in almost the same location.

Be sure to read the rest of the Civil War Relic Hunting series up to Part 16 on my uncle's property with a few side trips to other locations. Civil War Relic Hunting Part 16 is relic hunting using the White's V3i with 10x12SEF search coil.

Click pictures to enlarge.